After almost a month off for the 50 over competition, the Specsavers County Championship returns with a near full round of matches on Tuesday as the focus turns again to the red ball and that big Test series towards the end of the summer.
Both divisions have had two rounds of matches to get the season started and now the competition has a two month spell which is likely to sort out much of the promotion and relegation situation as well as the destiny of the title.
All eight Division One sides are in action on Tuesday and the main focus will be on Taunton where the leaders Somerset play host to the defending champions Surrey. Elsewhere Warwickshire will be looking to kick a poor start to the season into much better form when they host Hampshire, while Yorkshire, second heading into the week, make the lengthy trip to Canterbury to take on Kent. The other match in the division sees Essex taking on beaten Royal London semi-finalists Nottinghamshire down in Chelmsford.
The leaders Derbyshire don’t play in this round of fixtures so the team in second place, Leicestershire, will look to take advantage of that when they head to Lord’s to face Middlesex. Worcestershire have made a promising start to their campaign and they will host Durham at New Road, while the other two matches in the second tier sees Lancashire hosting Northamptonshire and Glamorgan taking on Gloucestershire in two competitive looking matches, with the latter being played at Newport rather than Cardiff.
Three bets for me this week and they all come in the top flight where I’ll start with Yorkshire who even at 8/11 look a decent price to see off a Kent side who are battered by absentees. Joe Denly is away with England while Sam Billings is done for near enough the entire season. They are also without Calum Haggett and Grant Stewart too so this looks like a heavily depleted Kent side. Obviously Yorkshire are without their England players but they are used to that by now. They do have Dom Bess who will give their bowling attack an extra dimension and lengthen their batting though. I’m expecting Yorkshire to do the business here.
Somerset have started the season well in both formats and I see no reason why that won’t continue here either. I think there is a lot more to come from Somerset even though they are the only side in the competition who won both their opening matches. I say that because Azhar Ali didn’t really contribute in those first two games and he has caught fire in the Royal London so I expect him to fill his boots from here on in. Surrey are another side ravaged by injuries and international call ups. The latter has deprived them of Jason Roy, Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran while England have ordered Sam Curran to rest. Ollie Pope, Jade Dernbach and Amir Virdi are injured too so while this isn’t a no hoper Surrey side it is clearly not full strength. Whether it be 50 overs or four days Somerset have been spot on this season and can continue that here.
Hampshire are without James Vince for their fixture at Warwickshire but I still expect them to get the job done. Confidence is a massive thing in county cricket and Hampshire should be full of it after making it through to the Royal London final on Sunday. Warwickshire less so having continued their poor start to the Championship season with a 50 over campaign that never really got off the ground. Add to that they are without the likes of Ian Bell and Sam Hain through injury while Chris Woakes is away with England and it is hard to see a very young Warwickshire side doing anything here. There are plenty of runs in this Hampshire side without Vince, with Alsop, Rossouw and Northeast in good touch along with Dawson and with their bowling attack as good as it is I’m expecting an away win here.
WON – Back Yorkshire to beat Kent for a 4/10 stake at 1.73 with Betfred
Back them here:
PUSH – Back Somerset to beat Surrey for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Coral
WON – Back Hampshire to beat Warwickshire for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with Boylesports
Back them here: